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W. C. Hartline

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Death by Diamonds
by W. C. Hartline   

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Category: 

Mystery/Suspense

Publisher:  Eveready Press ISBN-10:  0977762343 Type: 
Pages: 

262

Copyright:  August 1, 2007 ISBN-13:  9780977762347
Fiction

Diamonds are the most desired and beautiful of all stones, but this beauty can also be deadly. Robert Bozman was, he thought, finished with government work. But while conducting a private investigation of the disappearance of William B. Smith, he is forced to re-enter the world of secrets. "Boz" must now lead a team for the CIA to trake down Smith, who is suspected of trafficking in black market diamonds to fund a terrorist organization. From the streets of Chicago to a warehouse in Antwerp, Boz and his team go from hunter to hunted ina wild and harrowing adventure.

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On the other side of the Atlantic in front of a roaring fire, William B. Smith slumped in a chair, a small trickle of blood streaming down his face from a fresh wound above his right eye. His hands had a slight bluish color caused by the electrical cord that bound his wrists together behind his back. His head lay to one side with his chin resting on his chest. Smith had been whisked out of Chicago two nights ago. It had been a rather uneventful evening up until the time that two men grabbed him right outside his office. He had been doing some special work with one of his secretaries. It had proven to be very tiring but satisfying work. He was just leaving the conference room with a smile on his face and a need to find a couch and take a nap when he felt a sting on the back of his neck, and it was lights out. So here he was, in one of his boss’s many residences - - a large thirty-room castle on the coast of the North Atlantic surrounded by almost fifty acres of marshland that kept uninvited visitors away. The stone was hand cut from the surrounding cliffs and gradually put together starting with the Normans in 1240. The interior walls were made of oak and as a result of hand polishing by serfs and servants for almost eight centuries, had a weak mellow patina that glowed in the firelight. A large man strode silently toward the double sized fireplace and turned to face Smith. Holding a glass of scotch and water, he moved the ice lazily from side to side. Smith’s head rose up from his chest at the sound and the man walked up to the chair and threw the liquid into the captive’s face. Smith’s scream echoed through the first floor. “Now that I have your attention again, Mr. Smith, shall we continue?” “Please,” said Smith, “I don’t know what’s going on. I followed the instructions I was given. Everything was going so well; what in the world did I do?” The interrogator walked behind his hostage and dragged a wooden chair close to Smith. He lowered himself slowly into the seat, crossed his legs and moved within an inch of Smith’s ear. “You talk too much,” the man whispered, “not only to those secretary bimbos you jump in and out of bed with but to complete strangers whom you want to impress. You were a very wealthy and influential man who had been set up for life but you screwed it up. Why did you feel it was necessary to build yourself up any higher? “We put you in a position of power as the head of one of the largest diamond buying companies in the world. All you had to do was to take care of business for a few years and you would have been rewarded beyond your wildest dreams, but no, you decided to take your act on the road. You’ve put the whole operation in jeopardy. Not only do we have the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the company but there are also other agencies of the United States starting to snoop around. You have become a liability, Bill.” Smith hung his head again and began to whimper. “Please” but his voice cut off as he swallowed hard; “ Please don’t kill me, Vince.” “Oh shut up!” the man shouted suddenly, stood up and pushed the chair backwards, “Do you not have any pride, man? You screwed up, face it! The best thing you can do is to take your medicine like a man.” The perturbed man walked away from the sniveling Smith. He thrust his hands in his pocket and pulled out a box of wooden matches and a small cigar. Striking a match and slowly moving it under the end of the Kohiba, he inhaled until the smoke began to drift out and around his lips. Vince Hammond wasn’t the boss; he was the next in line. He was a large man around six feet two with wide meaty hands and a head to match. His suit and shoes were handmade Italian and fit his frame perfectly. He had been recruited to work for the organization right out of college and had worked himself up through the ranks to the position he was in now. His position dictated that inside his jacket under his left arm sat a Waltham PPK with a clip staggered with armor piercing rounds. The nicotine had a calming effect on Vince and after taking another long puff he said, “Bill, the knots you have created for the company will take years to undo. You gave important information away without even knowing it. You, my dear Bill, are a complete imbecile.” “I am innocent, I tell you! I don’t know what kind of information that I gave away, Vince. No one suspected a thing, and I was keeping my nose clean!” cried Smith. “You are so stupid. I can’t believe the boss would give you the kind of prestige and power that you have. You couldn’t find your head if it was in your hat. You’re pathetic. I told the boss that he should have gotten rid of you years ago, but he felt you were beneficial to this operation. Why, is beyond me,” sighed the man, “but that’s why he’s the boss and I’m the clean up man.” Vince paused and walked around to face Smith. “And, Bill? I am extremely good at my job.” Fresh tears ran down Smith’s face as he sobbed harder into his chest. He knew it was over. Even if he left this castle alive he knew that he would never be William B. Smith ever again. It really was a shame. He had played the part so well and so convincingly that even Mona, his wife, didn’t have a clue. The thought of having to give up that lifestyle after all these years was too much to bear at the moment, and he choked back another loud sob. His sobs were cut off by the sound of the phone ringing on the large oak desk that matched the décor of the room perfectly. Smith turned his head towards the desk as Vince walked in the direction of the phone, removing his cigar. “Yes sir?” Vince said into the mouthpiece. He listened for a second and his eyes grew wide. Vince turned away from Smith and walked around to the other side of the desk. “Yes sir!” he said again as he walked briskly to the fireplace and threw his cigar into the flames. “Sorry sir, I forgot myself for a moment. No sir, you will not have to remind me again about smoking in the house. Yes sir, I will make sure the staff cleans the whole room. Uh, yes sir, I will assist them.” Smith could only hear muffled tones, but by the inflection in Vince’s voice, he could tell he wasn’t happy. “Maybe even his most trusted employees are not immune”, thought Smith. Vince turned towards Smith and their eyes met. “Yes sir,” Vince said as he moved back towards Smith. There was the sound of a knife being drawn out of a leather sheath and Smith instinctively moved his head forward. This was it! He was going to die right here. He was going to have his throat cut, spilling his life’s blood out over the three hundred-year old Persian rug at his feet. But the feel of steel did not touch his neck. Instead he felt the knife move between his cord tied hands. There was a quick movement as Vince cut his bonds. Smith’s shoulders moved forward as his hands were released. A tingling sensation began at his wrists and continued to the ends of his fingers as the blood flow was restored. Vince walked back to the fireplace and stood looking at Smith while listening to the phone. “Yes sir. I will make the arrangements immediately.” There was a slight pause, then Vince seemed to repeat the words that were being transmitted to him. “Out of the castle and onto a plane for Argentina. Yes sir, I understand. No one will see him, I promise. Yes sir, it will be done exactly as you say, sir.” There was a loud click as the caller disconnected the conversation. Vince had a strange look on his face. He took a step towards Smith and smiled, “You are a lucky man, Bill. I don’t know what sign you were born under, but it seems you have been given a second chance. The boss wants me to reiterate that you have caused the company some problems, but he feels that the error can be corrected with some minor changes. So, it looks as though your goose is not cooked as of yet.” Bill Smith wiped his eyes with his shirtsleeve and leaned back into the chair. He couldn’t believe his luck. He was going to be exiled to Argentina for his blunder. What kind of blunder he was still not sure of. Whatever it was, it must not have been bad enough to be killed over. He sighed heavily and looked up at Vince. “When do I leave?” “Right now, this very minute. There is a car out front waiting for you with a change of clothes and a first aid kit to take care of your eye. There will also be a dock kit with some toiletries for you to use to clean yourself up before you reach your new home. A home you will probably be in forever.” Vince dialed the phone and then waited for someone to answer. There was a click as the connection was made. “This is Vince. Have someone ride with Mr. Smith to the airport and brings some things so he can tidy up.” There was a slight pause and Vince’s face became stern, ”When? I want it done five minutes ago.” Vince pushed the talk button to disconnect the call. Smith slowly rose from his chair, his legs and arms were very stiff from sitting for the last four or so hours. He tucked his shirt into his pants, yanked his tie up taut against his collar, pulling himself as straight as possible and walked towards the door of the large room. “Bill?” Smith stopped in his tracks and looked back towards Vince, “If you don’t watch yourself you will never see your homeland again. Remember, this is a second chance for you. Don’t blow it.” “Right,” said Smith, “don’t blow it, got it. You better believe I will remember that advice.” Smith walked out of the room and closed the door. He let out a long sigh and began to walk down the long hallway to the Great room. The hall emptied into a large room with high vaulted ceiling reaching almost thirty feet up towards a round stained glass dome. The workmanship was incredible. He admired it for a moment before he proceeded to a set of large double doors to the left of the small cathedral style room, pulled on the large brass ring door handle and stepped out into the cool air. A large black Mercedes Benz limousine was sitting in front of the door with the motor running. A tall thin man was dressed in a black chauffeur’s outfit was standing at attention and holding the back door open. Smith straightened his shoulders and walked as erect as he could towards the car, crawled into the backseat without even looking at the driver and slid across the well-polished leather upholstery to face the front of the car. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the back seat he noticed a woman sitting in the seat opposite him. Her presence gave him a slight start. Interior lights came on in the back of the limousine and the woman began to speak, “Mr. Smith,” said the woman, “I am Kay Daniels and I have some things here for you to clean up with. It will take us about forty-five minutes to reach the airport so you have a little time to freshen up. A new suit will be waiting for you on the plane along with a new passport, drivers license and some spending money.” Smith smiled. This woman was an absolute knockout. She was dressed in a navy blue business suit complete with a matching jacket and three-inch pumps. Her blouse was off white with a very low neckline and the smell of her perfume was like a breath of fresh air. She smiled at Smith with perfect white teeth Smith took the dock kit from her hands, which were as soft as silk with perfectly manicured nails. Inside the kit were a packet of wipes and a small mirror. He began to wash his eye and mouth cleaning up the blood that had started to dry on his to his cheekbone. He watched the young woman out of the corner of his eye. She had a pair of legs that were well tanned and defined. The calves were strong and athletic looking, which was probably the reason she didn’t have to wear any hosiery. She must have known he was watching because she uncrossed and crossed her legs and let her skirt ride up a little higher, showing him quite a bit more thigh, so much in fact that Smith accidentally jabbed his finger into his eye, making him wince. “You should watch what you’re doing.” Kay said with a smile. Smith recovered enough to keep a brave face for the young beauty. “It’s a little difficult watching what I’m doing with a beautiful woman sitting only a few feet away from me.” He smiled and she returned the look. “Will you be flying with me to Argentina?” Smith asked. “Oh, yes, sir. I have been instructed not to leave your side until we touch down in Buenos Aires. Have you ever been?” “No,” replied Smith, “Have you?” “Oh yes, several times. It’s a city that’s best experienced with someone else though.” Kay said with a knowing smile. “The beaches are wonderful and clean and the sunsets are breathtaking. But it loses something unless you are there with someone special.” “There are many shops that carry wonderful, deep green emeralds mined only a few hundred miles away. They are so beautiful that in the sunshine you can see your reflection in the face of the crystals.” Smith smiled, “Are you familiar with precious stones?” “Oh yes, “ Kay answered quickly, “I love all precious stones, though emeralds are my favorite. Did you know that the best gem quality emeralds are more expensive than perfect diamonds? Don’t get me wrong, I love diamonds too.” Smith continued to wipe his face and began to chuckle, “ Did you know I am the CEO of a large Diamond Syndicate in North America?” The young woman’s eyes lit up, “Diamonds? Oh, you’re just teasing me because I said I like emeralds better than diamonds.” “No, really I am. I have owned the American Diamond House in Chicago for the last thirty years. Smith reached across the seat and picked up a small bowl that was lying there and poured in a cup of warm water that was simmering on a small coffee maker in the back. He lathered his face and began to shave very slowly being careful not to hit the open cut on his lip. As he shaved he told her all about the operations of American Diamond House. He talked continuously to the airport and across the small tarmac to the small private plane that was idling, waiting for her passengers. As William Smith sat in the cabin talking to this voluptuous woman, who seemed to be hanging on his every word, his face became concerned as he realized what he had been doing. “What’s the matter, sir? Are you ok?” the woman asked with genuine concern. His eyes came back into focus and he said, “Oh yes. It’s just that I find myself talking too much about my business, “ he paused, “and other things.” “I was afraid it was something I had not done for you,” said Kay. “Oh no, nothing like that. You’re a beauty and a great listener, it’s just that I was told this evening that I talk too much, especially to lovely women.” His eyes met hers and he smiled. “I know I have that vice, but I don’t know what I could have said that caused such a problem.” The woman smiled shyly at Bill Smith. “Ah, sure you do, Bill.” Smith’s face looked curiously at the woman, “I do?” The woman started to unbutton her blue blazer. Smith’s eyes began to twinkle, as the problem of a long boring plane ride to South American was about to be solved. The woman pulled open her jacket reached around behind her back and pulled out a 45 Automatic with a silencer attached. “Does the name Robert Bozeman ring a bell?” the woman asked. The question was the last thing William Smith would ever hear. One hour later the small private jet began to slowly descend towards the Atlantic Ocean. It was flying about three hundred feet off the deck when the door of the aircraft opened and the body known as William B. Smith was thrown from the plane. The young woman watched the body spiral down towards the ocean surface until the aircraft had passed far enough ahead that she couldn’t see anymore. She forced the cabin door to close, walked back to her seat in the cabin opened a bottle of water, taking a long drink. “Some people just don’t know how to handle a second chance,” she said out loud to no one. She picked up the cabin phone and rang the cockpit. “You can take us back home now, Scott,” she announced. “Yes, ma’am,” was the reply. “Oh and Scott, call ahead to the castle and tell them to have a cleaning crew at the airport to meet the plane. New seats, interior carpet, walls cleaned, the works.” “Yes ma’am.” The woman stood up and walked back the restroom and washed her face and hands. She watched herself in the mirror as she removed her white blouse. “Not too bad for a woman of thirty” she said to herself. She then placed the blouse in the trash. She walked back into the cabin, opened up her travel case and pulled out an exact duplicate of the original blouse and put it on. She unzipped her makeup bag and replaced the base and blush she had washed off. It wasn’t the cleanest job she had ever done, but sometimes those things just can’t be helped. The plane made a slow one hundred and eighty degree turn, picked up speed due to one of the Atlantic Jet steams, and headed back east across the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.   


Excerpt

Smith smiled, “Are you familiar with precious stones?”

“Oh yes, “ Kay answered quickly, “I love all precious stones, though emeralds are my favorite. Did you know that the best gem quality emeralds are more expensive than perfect diamonds? Don’t get me wrong, I love diamonds too.”

Smith continued to wipe his face and began to chuckle, “ Did you know I am the CEO of a large Diamond Syndicate in North America?”

The young woman’s eyes lit up, “Diamonds? Oh, you’re just teasing me because I said I like emeralds better than diamonds.”

“No, really I am. I have owned the American Diamond House in Chicago for the last thirty years. Smith reached across the seat and picked up a small bowl that was lying there and poured in a cup of warm water that was simmering on a small coffee maker in the back. He lathered his face and began to shave very slowly being careful not to hit the open cut on his lip. As he shaved he told her all about the operations of American Diamond House. He talked continuously to the airport and across the small tarmac to the small private plane that was idling, waiting for her passengers.

As William Smith sat in the cabin talking to this voluptuous woman, who seemed to be hanging on his every word, his face became concerned as he realized what he had been doing.

“What’s the matter, sir? Are you ok?” the woman asked with genuine concern.

His eyes came back into focus and he said, “Oh yes. It’s just that I find myself talking too much about my business, “ he paused, “and other things.”

“I was afraid it was something I had not done for you,” said Kay.

“Oh no, nothing like that. You’re a beauty and a great listener, it’s just that I was told this evening that I talk too much, especially to lovely women.” His eyes met hers and he smiled. “I know I have that vice, but I don’t know what I could have said that caused such a problem.”

The woman smiled shyly at Bill Smith. “Ah, sure you do, Bill.”

Smith’s face looked curiously at the woman, “I do?”

The woman started to unbutton her blue blazer. Smith’s eyes began to twinkle, as the problem of a long boring plane ride to South American was about to be solved. The woman pulled open her jacket reached around behind her back and pulled out a 45 Automatic with a silencer attached. “Does the name Robert Bozeman ring a bell?” the woman asked. The question was the last thing William Smith would ever hear.

One hour later the small private jet began to slowly descend towards the Atlantic Ocean. It was flying about three hundred feet off the deck when the door of the aircraft opened and the body known as William B. Smith was thrown from the plane.

The young woman watched the body spiral down towards the ocean surface until the aircraft had passed far enough ahead that she couldn’t see anymore. She forced the cabin door to close, walked back to her seat in the cabin opened a bottle of water, taking a long drink. “Some people just don’t know how to handle a second chance,” she said out loud to no one. She picked up the cabin phone and rang the cockpit.

“You can take us back home now, Scott,” she announced.




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Reader Reviews for "Death by Diamonds"

Reviewed by Edward Saint-Ivan 6/25/2008
I noticed your page for "Death By Diamonds". I cant wait to by a copy. I HATE diamonds. Diamonds are totally overpriced and usually ugly. The DeBeers company has a monopoly on wholesale diamonds. The cubic zarconium is prettyer anyway.
To top it all off diamonds are my birth stone. I like rubies and saffires better.
I really appreciate your excerpt.


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